Change of heart brings DT Jonathan Bonner back to Notre Dame for 2018 season

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Make that 10 starters returning on defense for Notre Dame football in 2018.

A change of heart has senior defensive tackle Jonathan Bonner headed back to the Irish for a fifth year, according to multiple sources. The 6-foot-4, 291-pound Chesterfield, Mo., product is in the process of putting together a spring-semester class schedule and is expected to begin the process of catching up next week.

Classes at Notre Dame began Tuesday.

Notre Dame head coach later Tuesday conformed the news and weighed in on its impact via his Twitter account.

"Jonathan's an awesome kid," he wrote. "He could’ve moved on with his degree from ND, but he decided to return to further his education and help us work toward a national championship.

"Jonathan's made great strides on the field and I’m excited to see him rewarded for those efforts."

Less than 24 hours after standout juniors Jerry Tillery and Te’von Coney deferred the allure of the NFL Draft until next year, Bonner adds another key piece to recently promoted defensive coordinator Clark Lea’s first defense.

Bonner started all 13 games last season and recorded 30 tackles, more than double his career total coming into 2017. He had 3.5 tackles for loss, including two sacks, and recorded four QB hurries.

Freshman Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa (12 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss) was an important part of that defensive tackle tag team. Senior-to-be Micah Dew-Treadway and incoming freshman Jayson Ademilola are also expected to compete for playing time.

On Nov. 30, Bonner announced on his Twitter account that his mother had been recently diagnosed with endometrial cancer and has started a gofundme account to help offset the expenses.

“She is a two-time survivor of breast cancer,” he wrote, “and this is another illness that she will overcome, but we are asking for your help. Even with insurance, out-of-pocket expenses are adding up between radiation and chemotherapy as well as surgery coming in the near future.

“She is a single mother, a sister, an aunt, a friend and so much more. She has so much life to live and we are asking for your support. Even if you can only give a little, your prayers and well wishes mean a lot to me and my family during this trying time. We thank you.”

The Irish finished 46th nationally in total defense and 31st in scoring defense under one-and-done defensive coordinator Mike Elko, who left for Texas A&M earlier this month.

The Irish open the 2018 season Sept. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium against Michigan.

Notre Dame’s Jonathan Bonner (55) celebrates sacking Georgia’s Jake Fromm (11) during the ND's 20-19 loss to Georgia, Sept. 9 at Notre Dame Stadium. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)